On the Ice

Burnell, Paul

About the work

Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley, begins with a series of letters from a Mister R Walton to his sister in London, written on board a ship travelling north from Archangel in Russia. The fourth letter begins: “So strange an accident has happened to us, that I cannot bear to record it… Last Monday, we were nearly surrounded by ice, which closed in the ship on all sides, scarcely leaving her the sea-room in which she floated. Our situation was somewhat dangerous, especially as we were compassed round by a very thick fog. We accordingly lay to, hoping that some change would take place in the atmosphere and weather. About two o-clock the mist cleared, and we beheld, stretched out in every direction, vast and regular plains of ice, which seemed to have no end.”

Technical notes

Low notes difficult for oboe. The score specifies a high on an organ as a drone, but performers can experiment with other or additional voices or instruments at different octaves. You can also experiment with placing the drone in different parts of the auditorium. The drone should be quiet throughout.


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score & parts


Sample score



3m 00s


Flexible Ensemble with Keyboard


ob/vn, kbd, drone
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